- A train derailment in Ohio prompted authorities to conduct a “controlled release” of chemicals on board.
- A week later, the local creeks are full of dead fish and chickens have been found dead in their chicken coop.
- Authorities have said the water from the well in the area is safe to drink, but residents aren’t sure.
Days after a catastrophic train derailment prompted authorities to perform a “controlled release” of the toxic chemicals on board, animals are dying at alarming rates in eastern Palestine, Ohio.
A woman in northern Lima, about 18 kilometers from the village of East Palestine where the accident took place, checked her chicken coop on Feb. . .
“I’m very upset and panicked because this, they may just be chickens, but they are family,” Amanda Breshears told local news agency ABC27 WHTM.
While local officials have indicated that drinking water in the area is safe, CBS News reported, and the Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring air quality and has indicated that there is no cause for concern, Breshears and other Ohio residents are not convinced. .
“My video camera footage shows that my chickens were perfectly fine before they started burning, and as soon as they started burning, my chickens slowed down and died,” Breshears said. “If it can do that to chickens in one night, imagine what it will do to us in 20 years.”
On board the train – which derailed in a violent accident on Feb. 3 – were highly flammable hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, used to create a polymer that forms a popular plastic. Concerned that the materials would explode, sending deadly shrapnel more than a mile away, authorities conducted a “controlled release” of the chemicals and burned them, sending a toxic cloud of black smoke into the air.
Railway crews released the chemical by drilling a small hole in the tank car, a railway official told local news agency WKYC.
“This will allow material to come out of the tank car,” Norfolk Southern Railroad employee Scott Deutsch said on Monday before the fire, according to WKYC. “It will go into a pit and trench that we dug and set up for this operation. Inside that trench will be flares that line the trench which will then illuminate the material.”
Representatives of the East Palestine village council and the Ohio governor’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Breshears’ chickens weren’t the only fatalities residents blamed on the fire. Taylor Holzer, an East Palestinian resident who rescues foxes, told Newsweek that all four of his animals are showing signs of chemical exposure. One rescued fox had symptoms so severe that she died before she could receive treatment.
“It decayed very quickly,” Holzer said, adding that the fox had symptoms such as diarrhea and breathing problems. “He fell so fast and unexpectedly. He wasn’t able to blink or function properly as he died in my arms.”
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In addition to domesticated animals suffering from exposure to the toxin, residents have reported seeing streams filled with dead fish in recent days. An Ohio EPA official confirmed that toxic material entered waterways after the burn and killed fish, but reiterated that drinking water is safe and levels of air contaminants are not a cause for concern, CBS News reported.
Kurt Rhoads, an environmental engineer and associate professor at Care Western Reserve University, told local news agency Cleveland 19 that the impact of the chemicals will be measured in years to come as they seep into groundwater and likely impact used wells. to drink.
“If I try to scale things that you wouldn’t want on a derailed, overturned railcar that’s leaking and burning, that’s also at the top of the list,” Rhodes said. “I can think of a few worse things, but I’d put it at seven or eight.”
While animal deaths initially alarmed residents, human health issues are also starting to surface, even among residents who initially evacuated the area.
Chelsea Simpson, who lives near the derailment site, told The New Republic that she has had a sore throat since the burn, and her 8-month-old baby has suffered breathing problems that are being treated with steroids. Simpson said her eyes were red and burning after visiting her home for just 10 minutes a few days ago, and she still hasn’t returned.
“Re-entry air screenings are ongoing,” read a Monday EPA statement sent to Insider. “As of last night, 291 homes have been screened. To date, no detection of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride has been identified in the completed screened homes.”
There are 181 homes in the area that have yet to be tracked. It remains unclear whether the burning will have long-term effects on the environment or on residents in the area, and residents are concerned about the limited information released so far.
“It’s a shame that all of us are getting most of our information from other residents on Facebook,” East Palestine resident Liz Smith told The New Republic. “So it’s hard to say what’s true or not.”